Ironing your clothes does not ordinarily come with a health and safety warning, but add a forgetful nature, health condition or a toddler to the mix… and you have all the makings of a potential disaster.
How to safely manage an iron is pretty much common sense, but under special circumstances, a whole new set of ironing safety rules apply. For example, how to keep your home child-safe while ironing, or extra measures to protect adults who suffer from epileptic seizures.
To keep you and your family safe from the potential perils of ironing, we’ve laid out what safety precautions should be taken while handling an electric iron. Here are the top 10 tips that will reduce the risk of injuries or burns in your home.
1. Always Iron on a Sturdy Ironing Board
How do you use an iron safely? For a start, always iron on a quality ironing board. Ironing boards have cotton covers and padding that are resistant to excessive heat. Additionally, when you place the iron down, the iron rest can withstand the full heat of the soleplate.
Ironing on a carpet or bed is not only a fire risk but it places the hot appliance within easy reaching distance of children and pets.
Ensure your ironing board is stable and has a safety latch to prevent it from collapsing when in use. When stored, the same latch should keep the board closed so it doesn’t open up accidentally and pinch unsuspecting fingers.
2. Steam Iron Safety Features are a Must
50% of ironing injuries in adults are caused by a medical condition such as epilepsy. In the event of a seizure or blackout, those at risk should ensure their iron will power off automatically and minimize the extent of the danger.
Do most irons have auto shut off? Thankfully, yes they do. Most modern steam irons available in the US have an auto-shutoff feature which will switch the iron off if it falls. Additionally, if the iron is left inactive for a period of time, it will also shut off and gradually cool.
But, how safe are they really, and do irons cause fires? It is highly unlikely that a steam iron would cause a fire. Because irons have built-in thermostats, they are designed to regulate and control the temperature, and then… you still have the auto shut off feature as a backup.
Your iron will not burst into flames if accidentally left on, in fact, it is designed to do the exact opposite… to cool down.
3. Avoid Ironing with Kids Around
Tackling the ironing at suicide hour, or after a sugar-rich birthday party, would be less than wise. Choose the right time to wield that hot iron.
Contact burns are a common injury in children under the age of 4 where they learn from exploring their environment… and that could include touching and pulling on an unsupervised hot iron.
If your ironing typically gets done in a shared family area, try to get the ironing done when the kids are elsewhere. We get this is not always possible, but if you can schedule the ironing for when the kids are at school or down for a nap, then you can work safely, efficiently, and without interruption.
4. Position the Power Cord Safely
For steam irons with power cords, run the cord where it is not a tripping or pulling hazard. Most iron burns in children are caused by pulling the power cord or knocking the iron from its surface.
If ironing around kids in unavoidable, then a cordless steam iron (where the charging base is safely out of the way). Another consideration is that the soleplate of the iron can take as long as 90 minutes to cool. A steam iron with a retractable cord is another feature that instantly eliminates the power cord as potential anger.
The cable should be insulated and in good condition to avoid electrical shorts. Why do irons have fabric cables you ask? Well, the material around the cord is actually an additional safety precaution because it is resistant to high temperatures and creates a protective layer for the electrical wiring.
5. Don’t Leave the Iron Unattended
As a rule, never leave the iron unattended. Kids and pets can be unpredictable. Young children will touch a hot soleplate or pull on a power cord because they don’t realize the consequences.
When you’re done ironing, the iron can take over an hour to cool down, so ensure it cools while out of reach. Even the short time it takes to answer the door or a phone call is enough time for a toddler to get where they shouldn’t.
6. Don’t Multitask
Sure, a glass of wine and a Netflix binge sounds like the perfect pacifier when it comes to easing your ironing burden, and that’s okay… but only when the kids are sound asleep, or at their grandparents.
Multitasking can lead to decreased accuracy with studies revealing that 32% of accidents are caused by distraction. With the increased workload, the brain’s processing power slows and delays reaction times.
Additionally, completing the job in a single dedicated session means it will not only go faster, but you won’t have ironing boards and hot irons lying around for an extended period. When iron with kids in the vicinity, do only that.
7. Never Use an Electric Iron Near Water
Electricity and water are a dangerous combination. It’s important to keep not just your electric iron, but all electrical appliances away from water… ironing rule number 8, don’t iron near a sink, bathtub, or pool.
When filling a steam iron with water or rinsing the water tank, always ensure the power cord is disconnected from the electrical wall socket.
As an additional ironing safety precaution, make sure your hands are dry and that you’re not standing in a large puddle of spilled wine or juice while ironing… or working with any electrical appliance for that matter.
8. Never Use a Damaged or Leaking Iron
If the steam iron has fallen or looks damaged, don’t use it, and ever try to dismantle and repair it yourself. It’s safer to have it looked at by a professional or an approved service center if it is still under warranty.
Similarly, if the iron is leaking excessively, avoid using it. Water is an excellent conductor and you don’t want to risk shocking yourself.
9. Install Safety Precautions in your Home
Packing away ironing boards and equipment may be impractical and inconvenient if you have a regular flow of ironing. In these cases, children below a certain age should be kept out of spaces where steam irons are permanently setup.
Keep the doors to laundry areas and sewing studios closed, or install a safety gate to prevent kids from reaching for things they shouldn’t.
10. Pack Irons and Boards Away After Ironing
When you’re done ironing, get in the habit of immediately unplugging the machine and storing it out of harm’s reach.
Use an iron caddy to safely cool down your iron. The caddy should be secured to the wall to prevent the iron from toppling… in the event of a small child attempting to swinging on the end of a dangling power cord.
Ironing boards should also be folded and stored properly so there is no risk of kids or pets bumping or pulling them down onto themselves.
Our Safe Ironing Conclusion
If ironing health and safety is a priority, applying these ironing safety tips will give you peace of mind that your laundry room is not the death trap that nightmares are made of.
Burns are the 5th most common injury in American homes so ensuring your ironing setup is not a danger is a smart move.
Iron Burns in Adults and Children: Resource